Patients Show High Suicide Rate in Early Stage of Mild Cognitive Impairment and High Accidental Death Rate in Late Stage of Amnesia

A SMC research team led by Professor Jinpyo Hong of Department of Psychiatry carried out an observational study from 2005 to 2016 on 10,169 patients with cognitive impairment recruited by Clinical Research Center for Dementia of Korea (CREDOS). The study results showed that a suicide rate is high in the early stage of mild cognitive impairment, whereas the accidental death rate increases in the late stage of amnesia, suggesting a need for active death prevention management from the time of diagnosis. 


According to the study, the suicide rate of cognitive impairment patients was lower that the accidental death rate because the limitation of cognitive function disrupted the act of planning and committing suicide. The suicide rate was the highest at the time of initial diagnosis, and in a similar manner, relatively young cancer patients who were diagnosed within a year showed a high suicide rate. This is presumably due to a sense of frustration that patients feel from functional impairment and lack of autonomy.


Patients with severe impairment exhibited a high accidental death rate due to deterioration of physical ability, situational judgment and short-term memory. In particular, age was a fatal risk factor for all patient groups of mild and severe cognitive impairment. The accidental death rate of severe cognitive impairment patients increases by 3.63-fold per year. Therefore, it is critical to be aware of potential risks of accident from the early stage of disorder.


This study was published in the recent issue of international journal <Alzheimer’ s Research & Therapy> (2017 IF 5.015).